Chanticleers Welcome Cal To First East Coast Swing

Photo: Sophomore second baseman Tony Renda is leading the Bears with five hits. The
All-Pac-10 first team selection is also responsible for Cal's lone stolen base in three games.
Kevin Foote/Staff
Sophomore second baseman Tony Renda is leading the Bears with five hits. The All-Pac-10 first team selection is also responsible for Cal's lone stolen base in three games.

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Kevin Miller hopes to be well rested for his first start of the season. The senior pitcher, along with the rest of the Cal baseball team, had to get up early yesterday - really early.

To make their way to the Caravelle Resorts Tournament, the No. 17 Bears started the trip at around 3:30 a.m. After a flight to Atlanta, a layover, and a second flight to South Carolina, Cal finally bussed its way to Myrtle Beach, S.C.

"I'm gonna sleep the whole way," Miller said Wednesday.

While players often opt to entertain themselves with iPods and movies, most will likely follow Miller's example on their first road trip of the year. At 4 p.m. EST, they'll see one of the No. 1 seeds from last year's postseason.

Coastal Carolina hosted a Super Regional for the first time in 2010, the current apex of their recent success, but was edged out by eventual national champions South Carolina. Ranked No. 17 by the National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association but outside the top 25 by Baseball America, the Chanticleers (3-2) may not be as intimidating as they did a year ago.

Coastal Carolina lost a group of players that produced 54 percent of its runs lost year, and is only hitting .215 collectively. On the other hand, it has also stolen 11 bases on 13 attempts in five games.

"They like to run," Miller said. "I think the big thing for us is gonna be to play the game at our pace, not fall into anything that they're gonna do."

The Chanticleers figure to be the biggest matchup in a weekend that also features North Carolina State and Kansas State. The team gets to play on their home park at BB&T Coastal Field. It's also shown a penchant for the dramatic this spring, winning two games on walk-off home runs and taking a 2-1 loss to Indiana into the 16th inning.

Cal has demonstrated a similar flair, opening the season with a grand slam and a walk-off win in a doubleheader against Utah last weekend. In Tuesday's 3-2 loss at Stanford, however, the Bears' inability to string together runs caught up with them.

Against the Cardinal, went scoreless until starting pitcher Jordan Pries was replaced after the fourth inning. The Bears rang off two runs in the fifth, but couldn't muster anything else the rest of the way.

Relievers Kyle Porter and Matt Flemer combined for five strikeouts over the final 2.1 innings, but the offense left four runners stranded through the eighth and ninth.

"We're looking to hit the ball a little more low and hard," center fielder Chad Bunting said. "We were a little long that first weekend. We flew out a lot, too many times. Struck out too many times. We're really focusing on shortening up our swing."

The weather, though, may put a damper on Cal's excitement to finally play a full slate of games after rainouts last Friday and Saturday - thunderstorms are forecast for Friday afternoon.


Jack Wang covers baseball. Contact him at [email protected]

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